"The discipline of the parade square, the traditions of the mess, would work their magic and Esprit deCorps would fall like a blessed unction from above."
Men at Arms
By definition, a tradition is an "
opinion or belief or custom handed down... from ancestors to posterity, especially orally or by practice." The traditions that underlie the CFMS are its lifeblood. They embody certain ideals of service and provide a framework for members to work together as part of a highly disciplined and cohesive team. The continuing observance of military and medical traditions handed down by earlier generations will empower the CFMS to live up to its longstanding reputation for excellence.
Within the Canadian Forces, each service, branch and regiment has traditions peculiar to it. When it was formed in 1959, the CFMS adopted many Navy, Army and Air Force traditions. Since then, some customs have been found inappropriate or excessive and have been let fall. Those that remain - both medical and military traditions - draw members together within the service and provide uniformity at military and social functions. They also help to build esprit de corps and allow new members of the CFMS to integrate comfortably and confidently into their new military family.
It all comes down to esprit de corps. Canadian medical personnel rarely drill ("the discipline of the parade square"). However, the disciplines of the ward, the operating room and the laboratory are just as binding and these, together with our traditions, contribute strongly to building esprit de corps.
Hippocrates, a Greek physician and teacher who flourished around 400 B.C., is called the "Father of Medicine" for the collection of 72 works on medicine written by his followers. Hippocrates distanced himself from earlier, largely magical practices and looked for a scientific and natural basis for treatment of the sick and injured. Many of the theories he advanced have long since been discredited, but the principles of medical treatment he put forward still prevail. For example, he insisted that medical practitioners have an obligation to teach their skills to those that follow them, that they should protect the confidence of patients, and that they should not assist their patients to harm themselves. Finally, and most importantly, they themselves should do no harm and, if not skilful enough to treat an injury or illness, they should refer the patient to someone more qualified. These teachings are reflected in the Hippocratic Oath, which is still sworn by modern doctors on graduation day in some countries. Its principles apply to the work of health care providers in the CFMS to this day.
From the earliest days of Christian monasteries and convents, many religious communities have considered it part of their mission to accept the sick and injured (including soldiers), and to care for them, soul and body, until they either recover or die. This practice continues to this day.
For religious reasons, medieval monks and nuns did not perform surgery, but many orders developed expertise in nursing, physical therapy and the use of drugs. Religious healers were as concerned for their patients’ spiritual welfare as for their physical recovery, a matter of particular importance before the development of the effective drugs and techniques that are the basis of modern medicine. The association of medicine and religion survives in the close relationship between the CFMS with the Canadian Forces chaplaincy, and in the forms of address associated with registered nurses (especially in the armed forces) who, until very recently, were called "nursing sisters."
In 1984, the CFMS chose Saint Luke, the author of one of the four gospels in the New Testament (the one that includes the parable of the Good Samaritan), as patron saint. Identified in one of Saint Paul’s epistles as a physician, Luke is believed to have been a painter as well, and he is therefore the patron saint of doctors and artists. Today, medical units of the Canadian Forces celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Luke on the Sunday nearest to 18 October.
Although CFMS personnel are not combatants, they bear arms to protect their patients and themselves. Medical officers on parade may carry swords, but they do not draw them; non-commissioned CFMS members on parade in a formed unit may carry personal weapons, but they do not fix bayonets. On operations, however, all CFMS personnel carry the personal weapons suitable to their situation and, when not engaged in their primary duties, perform defensive tasks such as taking their turn at guard duties.
The order of march has not changed substantially since the Napoleonic Wars. Before armies were motorized, the medical officer always marched near the head of the column, where he could scout for a location for the field hospital or aid post. The rest of the medical staff followed the column in the wagons that carried their equipment, picking up soldiers who fell out on the march. Today, when troops move, the medical officer (or his or her representative) still accompanies the advance party to make sure that medical arrangements are in place by the time the main body arrives. The rest of the medical unit follows with the main body and the rear party, as it is responsible for caring for the soldiers while they are in transit.
Like many branches of the armed forces, the CFMS has a system of honorary appointments in addition to its command structure. This dual system gives the service an opportunity to recognize respected individuals, and allows those holding honorary appointments to help build esprit de corps. Honorary appointments are conferred on retired officers and distinguished civilians for specified periods. The following are the CFMS’s honorary appointments:
The Colonel Commandant, an honorary appointment at National Defence Headquarters, is traditionally selected from among officers who retired at the rank of colonel or higher. The appointment is normally for three years, but it may be extended. The Colonel Commandant maintains communications with the Colonel-in-Chief and may be a source of information and experience for the staff of the Surgeon General, and a source of inspiration and esprit de corps for all ranks.
Honorary Colonels and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonels are appointed to CFMS units from among distinguished Canadian Forces members and civilians who live near the unit’s home station. The appointment is normally for three years, but it may be extended. Honorary Colonels and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonels are expected to act as ready sources of advice on military medical traditions and other matters relating to the morale of the unit. They are also expected to be a source of inspiration and esprit de corps.
Dr. Peter Vaughan was selected as the Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Forces Medical Service (CFMS) on 6 September 2001. Dr. Vaughan served in the Regular Force as a Medical Officer and Flight Surgeon (1983-1986) and as member of the Supplementary Reserve (1986 and 1996). In 1994 he was deployed to Sarajevo in support of OP Airbridge. Dr. Vaughan distinguished record of volunteerism, humanitarian medical service, and leadership makes him an ideal role model for the CFMS health care team.
When a member of the Royal family is appointed, subject to Her Majesty’s pleasure, as colonel-in-chief to a regiment, corps or other military organization, it is called a “Royal appointment,” and it is conferred for life. The first Royal appointment to the CFMS was made in 1977, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the former Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, accepted the equivalent appointment in the CFMS, a position she held for 25 years; she died in 2002. The CFMS reports to its Colonel-in-Chief routinely and on special occasions through the Colonel Commandant, and communicates operational matters deemed to be of interest.
The appointment of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as Colonel-in-Chief of the CFMS was only one of nearly two dozen such appointments she held. Among them were appointments to the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and the Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps.
Messes are integral to military life and serve a vital role in fostering morale and building esprit de corps among Canadian Forces personnel. A Mess Dinner is a formal military dinner held on special occasions, and it is a central event in the life of the Mess; it is here that members of a unit and their guests meet for fellowship and hospitality. It is important that those entering the Mess or enjoying its hospitality should know and comply with its traditions and customs, which centre on courtesy and respect.
An invitation to dine in the Mess is an invitation to enter the home and share in the life of the organization. Though Mess Dinner procedures vary from unit to unit, they are fundamental to any unit’s traditions. Those invited to attend a Mess Dinner are expected to accept or send regrets in the same form in which the invitation was tendered and as promptly as possible. They are also expected to arrive a few minutes before the time specified on the invitation.
A CFMS Mess Dinner includes some (if not all) of the following elements:
If there is a receiving line, those attending the dinner proceed through it without delay, exchanging friendly greetings.
The company will assemble for a short while in the anteroom for conversation and an aperitif or pre-dinner drink. Sherry is traditional, but no one is under any obligation to drink alcohol. At fifteen minutes and again at five minutes before dinner, a bugle call or other musical signal will remind the assembly that the meal is about to begin. During this period, all members and their guests should consult the seating plan in the lobby to find out where they will sit and who their companions at table will be. It is also wise to use this time to make any personal arrangements that are necessary to ensure that one does not have to leave the dining room during the program.
When it is time to go in to dinner, a procession forms behind those seated at the head table and their guests, and moves into the dining room. When everyone has found his or her place, all stand behind their chairs.
As soon as all are in place, the President of the Mess Committee (PMC) taps for order; the PMC, a chaplain or a member then says Grace. The company is then seated.
A Mess Dinner comprises several courses, each with its own wine, which no one is required to drink; those who do not drink alcohol may drink water, which will be on the table, or ask the server for a suitable non-alcoholic beverage. While dining, everyone engages his or her neighbours at the table in quiet, pleasant conversation on subjects of general interest. Argument, loud talk and rowdiness are disliked in the Mess, where the company is expected to behave in a mannerly way. Those who wish to leave the table for any reason must ask the PMC for permission.
After the dessert course, the table is cleared of all dishes, cutlery, glasses and napkins, leaving only a port glass for use during the toasts.
A decanter of port is presented to the person at the foot of each table, who fills the port glass and, without setting the decanter down, passes it immediately to the left. Each person repeats the procedure, filling the port glass and passing the bottle to the left and never across the table. A non-alcoholic drink may be substituted for port. The contents of the glass are left untouched until the Loyal Toast is proposed.
When all the glasses have been filled, the PMC rises, taps for order and, in one of Canada’s official languages, asks the Vice President of the Mess Committee (VPMC) to propose the Loyal Toast. The VPMC rises and, in the other official language, says: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Queen of Canada." All rise and, if a band is present, leave their glasses on the table and stand at attention while the Royal Anthem ("God Save the Queen") is played. Then all lift their glasses, saying, "the Queen of Canada," and drink to the health of Her Majesty. Then all resume their seats and return to quiet conversation. If no band is present, when the VPMC proposes the Loyal Toast, all rise and immediately lift their glasses to toast the health of Her Majesty. Because there are several toasts still to be made, the wise person sips only a little at each toast.
After a short pause, the PMC rises again, taps for order and, in one of the official languages, asks the VPMC to propose the toast to the Colonel-in-Chief. The VPMC rises and, in the other official language, says, "Ladies and gentlemen, our Colonel-in-Chief," followed by the appropriate name. All rise and, if a band is present, leave their glasses on the table and stand at attention while the Colonel-in-Chief’s music is played; then all lift their glasses, saying "the Colonel-in-Chief" followed by the appropriate name, take a sip of port, resume their seats, and return to quiet conversation. If no band is present, when the VPMC proposes the toast, all rise and immediately lift their glasses to toast the health of the Colonel-in-Chief.
If guests from foreign countries are present at dinner, the PMC proposes a toast to the Head of State of each country represented. Again, if a band is present, all stand while the national anthem of that country is played, then offer a suitable phrase of good wishes, take a sip of port, sit down, and resume
After the official toasts, coffee is served and, if a band is present, the marches of the Environmental Commands, branches and regiments represented at the dinner are played in order of precedence. (The PMC will have arranged the repertoire with the band director.) The non-medical members of each formation or regiment being honoured will stand at their places during the playing of their march. CFMS members, even though affiliated with an Environmental Command, are not obliged to stand during the playing of that command’s march; despite their Army, Navy and Air Force uniforms, they traditionally emphasize their medical team identity by standing only for "The Medical Branch March". (This practice is evolving, as many medical personnel now choose to stand when their Environmental Commands are honoured.) In order to be ready to stand at the right moment, members should be aware of the order of precedence (see Honours, Flags and Heritage Structure of the Canadian Forces [A-AD-200-000 / AG-000]). Contrary to the practice in many other messes, only chaplains are expected to stand during the playing of "Onward Christian Soldiers", the Chaplain Branch march. There is general applause at the conclusion of each march.
The Commanding Officer or senior non-commissioned officer who is hosting the Mess Dinner may wish to make some remarks or invite a member or guest to do so. All comments should be brief, however, as the conclusion of the dinner approaches. The PMC signals the end of dinner by tapping the gavel and announcing the adjournment. All rise and stand at their places while the hosting Commanding Officer or senior non-commissioned officer departs with the head table guests. All the other diners follow. The PMC and the VPMC remain until everyone else has left the dining room.
Members and guests adjourn to the anteroom after dinner to enjoy general conversation until the departure of the senior member of the Mess (i.e., the hosting Commanding Officer or senior non-commissioned officer). If any member or guest must depart early, good manners require him or her to take leave of the host and make proper apologies.
Military medical tradition says, "Keep your clothes as clean as your hands."
All military personnel wear uniforms, varying only in accordance with the season, climate and particular employment. In the CFMS, as well as orders of dress for the office and ceremonial occasions, the uniform includes "clinical whites", "surgical greens" and various kinds of operational clothing. Uniforms must be worn according to the dress regulations, correct in every detail and as clean as possible - even in the field - both to prevent contamination and to inspire confidence. On occasion, medical personnel will be dressed in civilian clothing when they are called to treat patients, and military standards of order and cleanliness must apply to that dress also.
Personnel in the CFMS must adhere to the high standards of conduct and respect that are followed throughout the Canadian Forces. These standards are most visibly expressed by what is called the "paying of compliments" - specifically, the salute.
The salute is a formal reciprocal gesture that expresses mutual respect and trust between non-commissioned members and commissioned officers, and between officers of different ranks. It is always initiated by the subordinate and completed by the superior. The salute under arms acknowledges the superior officer’s right to control the weapon. The hand salute, used when unarmed or when carrying a small weapon such as a pistol, indicates that the hand is empty. When not on parade, it is correct also to exchange greetings.
The elements of the salute, delivered either while standing and on the march, are:
Canadian Forces members traditionally salute with the open hand only when in uniform and wearing headgear. When in uniform but without cap, the junior member merely stands or walks at attention while looking the superior officer in the eye. In civilian dress, the salute consists of raising the hat or cap; if no headgear is worn, or if removing the headgear would be awkward, it is customary to look the superior officer in the eye with head erect and exchange greetings. A junior member in uniform who recognizes a superior in civilian dress should give the hand salute, which will be returned in the manner appropriate to one in civilian dress.
When carrying a "long arm" (rifle or sword), the salute normally consists of a gesture in which the weapon is proffered to the recipient of the salute. The full "present arms" is performed by Canadian Forces personnel on formal occasions (guard or parade), and the lack of a bayonet does not prevent medical personnel carrying rifles from doing this, so they do. Likewise, medical personnel armed with rifles when on guard duty give the "short salute", in which the left hand is brought across to strike the forestock of the shouldered weapon, just as other Canadian Forces members do. The practice varies with respect to medical officers carrying swords, however; on parade, medical officers do not draw their swords, but salute with the open hand.
Vehicles flying a general or flag officer’s pennant or displaying the uncovered plate of a general or flag officer (these plates are marked with one or more maple leaves) must be saluted appropriately. The occupant of the vehicle must return the salute.
Canadian Forces members traditionally indicate respect for their fallen comrades by giving cenotaphs and war memorials the same signs of respect that they accord to superior officers. Likewise, when a military or civilian funeral procession passes, military personnel should halt, face the cortège, and salute as a sign of respect for the deceased and sympathy for the bereaved.
Every military organization has its own motto, badge, flag and march to symbolize its identity, and the CFMS is no exception. The motto succinctly defines the ideal of a group united by a common purpose. The badge, flags and march are the motto’s visual and musical equivalents. Before the formation of the CFMS, the RCAMC and the medical branches of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force had their own insignia. For motto and march, the RCAMC used those of its British antecedent, the Royal Army Medical Corps: its motto was In Arduis Fidelis (Faithful in adversity), and its march was "Here’s a Health Unto Her Majesty." The medical branches of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force used their parent services’ mottos (Ready, Aye, Ready and Per Ardua Ad Astra) and marches ("Heart of Oak" and "The RCAF March Past"). When the CFMS was formed, it received the following motto, badge, flag and march.
Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony V. Grasset, a former commanding officer of 12 (Vancouver) Medical Company, proposed Militi Succurrimus [We hasten to aid the soldiers] as the motto of the CFMS in 1976. Taken into informal use shortly thereafter, it was formally approved on 10 August 1988.
Within a wreath of stylized gold maple leaves, anoval annulus of dull cherry edged in gold, chargedwith a Rod of Æsculapius in gold, the wholeensigned by the Royal Crown proper.
The crown symbolizes loyalty to the Sovereign. Æsculapius represented healing in Greco-Roman mythology (considered a minor god by some, a demigod or mortal by others). His emblem was a snake, whose regenerative power was symbolized by its ability to shed its skin. Today, the staff and serpent of Æsculapius are widely recognized symbols of medicine. The "sanguine" (blood-coloured) background of the badge also refers to Greek medicine, which was founded on the idea of four bodily "humours" (blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile), each with its own nature. The sanguine humour was associated with all that was hopeful, confident and optimistic.
When worn singly (e.g., as a cap badge), the snake faces the wearer’s right. When worn as pairs (e.g., as collar badges), the snakes face each other. In print, the snake faces left.
A flag divided diagonally from the lower hoist to theupper fly, dull cherry red above and dark greenbelow. In the canton, the CFMS badge is presented in full colour.
"The Medical Branch March" (arrangement by Lieutenant(N) Brian Gossip) is a blend of two traditional English songs: "The Farmer’s Boy", associated with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment, and "Here’s a Health Unto Her Majesty", the march of the RCAMC. "The Medical Branch March" was selected in 1975 as the quick march of the Medical Branch by a committee chaired by the then Surgeon General, Rear-Admiral Richard Roberts; official approval followed on 2 September 1977. During a ceremonial parade, "The Medical Branch March" is played when the CFMS contingent is passing the saluting point. It is also played at Mess Dinners.
Brian Gossip was born in Kingston-upon-Hull in northeast England. He was conscripted into the British Army in 1952 under the National Service Act and selected for training as a musician with the Band of the Royal Highland Regiment (the Black Watch), with which he served in Germany and British Guiana. His National Service completed, Brian emigrated to Canada in 1955, and joined the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve at HMCS Hunter in Windsor, Ontario, where he served as a musician. In 1958, he decided on a full-time military career and joined the band of The Royal Canadian Regiment at Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario.
In 1971, Brian Gossip was accepted in competition for training as a bandmaster at the Canadian Forces School of Music and, on graduation, he was commissioned and posted to the Central Band of the Canadian Forces, based at Ottawa. Between 1974 and 1988, Lieutenant(N) Gossip composed or arranged many Canadian Forces marches, including "The Medical Branch March", an arrangement of "Greensleeves" as a slow march for the Canadian Forces Dental Service, a new arrangement of "The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry March Past", and "The Thunderbird March", an original composition adopted by the Canadian Forces Security Branch as its official march. In 1988, Lieutenant(N) Gossip transferred from the Regular Force to the Cadet Instructor List, and he retired from the Canadian Forces in 1999. Brian Gossip is now a member of the Comox District Concert Band, and still writing music for military bands. He has several compositions in various stages of completion.
A Banner of sanguine silk, fringed in gold anddull cherry with the Medical Branch Badge at its centre above ascroll displaying the Medical Branch Motto, Militi Succurrimus, with the dates 1885-1985 embroidered below the scroll. In the canton, the Queen Mother’s cipher, a stylized monogram in silver, is embroidered below a coronet. The staff head is a crowned lion in gold. The Banner is constructed of two layers of cloth, with an identical image on eitherside.
In 1984, when the CFMS celebrated its 25th anniversary, the Surgeon General requested that a Banner be made to honour the service’s contribution to the Canadian Forces. In 1985, a century after the first operational deployment of a medical unit in support of Canadian troops, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Colonel-in-Chief of the CFMS, presented the Banner at a ceremonial parade held in the grounds of Queen’s Park, the Ontario legislature. Her Majesty’s remarks on this occasion referred to the origins of the CFMS, its splendid record in war, and the value of its contribution in peacekeeping missions.
The Banner is ensconced at the CFMS School at CFB Borden, Ontario. It is used locally and is available for display by Regular and Reserve medical units, provided that it can be safely transported to and from the place of display and protected while in the custody of the requesting unit. Normally, an officer accompanies the Banner while it is in transit.
When on parade, the Banner is borne immediately behind and to the right of the Canadian national flag. In 1990, a CFMS detachment trooped the Banner in London as part of a celebration of the 90th birthday of its Colonel-in-Chief.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother served as Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps from July 1952 until the unification of Canada’s armed services in 1968. In 1977, she graciously accepted the same role with the CFMS, which then became one of the 23 Commonwealth military organizations in which Her Majesty held appointments. In regular communication with the Colonel Commandant during her years as Colonel-in-Chief, Her Majesty always responded readily to reports and, from time to time, sent messages of interest, encouragement and support to the service. She also made a point, when touring Canada, of visiting CFMS units and meeting as many members as possible. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, at the age of 101.
Battle honours are badges awarded to military and naval units for participation in particular actions or, more rarely, campaigns. They are most often seen on the Colours of a regiment or the Standard of an Air Force squadron. The CFMS, though it is present wherever Canadians are serving, is not a combatant service and therefore does not receive battle honours. Our honour lies in supporting our comrades when they are well and caring for them as skilfully as possible when they are sick or wounded.
In a very real sense, the CFMS School is the "home station" of the Medical Branch. Located at CFB Borden, Ontario, since 1941, the school is the one place all CFMS members have in common, wherever they come from and wherever they serve.
The RCAMC School was established in late 1939, shortly after Canada declared war, at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa. In February 1941, it moved to Camp Borden, where it trained RCAMC personnel for nearly 20 years.
When the CFMS was formed in 1959, it faced the problem of bringing a wide variety of medical professionals and auxiliary staff with very different kinds of training and experience into a unified service. The formation of the CFMS Training Centre at Camp Borden was spurred, therefore, by the need for common standards and a way to disseminate those standards. The new school brought together and built on the earlier work of the RCAMC School, the RCAF Medical Assistant School in Aylmer, Ontario, and the medical training facilities of the Royal Canadian Navy, especially RCNH Naden in Esquimalt. The facility was renamed the CFMS School in 1968.
On 17 June 1994, the CFMS celebrated the opening of a new main building for the CFMS School, named the Private Richard Rowland Thompson Building for the Canadian recipient of the Queen’s Scarf, one of eight awarded throughout the British Empire during the South African War. Private Thompson was honoured for repeated acts of heroism in rendering aid to fallen soldiers and, as he represents the values and traditions of the CFMS, it is fitting that his name should be attached in perpetuity to its school.
The CFMS has a relationship with the Royal Army Medical Corps that dates back more than a century. Each has an exchange officer working at the other’s school.